Overview of readers notes
These notes were written in response to what Benedict XVI wrote in his exhortation The Word of the Lord in which he ‘stressed the need for adequate training of those who exercise the ministry of reader in liturgical celebrations....This training should be biblical and liturgical as well as technical.’ The notes attempt to give some biblical background to the Sunday readings following Pope Benedict’s words: ‘The purpose of their biblical formation is to give readers the ability to understand the readings in context and to perceive in the light of faith the central point of the revealed message.’ (58)
In drawing up the notes I have used the text, introductory notes and footnotes from the New Jerusalem Bible along with my own thoughts and comments. The notes cover the first and second readings for the Sunday cycles A (when mainly Matthew’s gospel is read), B (mainly Mark’s gospel), & C (mainly Luke’s gospel). The first part, after an introductory paragraph, is an introduction to the book of the Bible from which the reading is taken. This is followed by a short commentary on the actual reading giving its context and some explanation. Between the notes for the first and second reading there is a brief comment on the responsorial psalm.
The notes are set out for Year A followed by Year B and then Year C. The current year will always be displayed. The notes for the Sundays are set out in the following order:
The Sundays of Advent,
The Sundays of the Christmas Season, ending with the Baptism of the Lord which closes the Christmas season.
The Sundays of Lent,
The Sundays of Easter, ending with Pentecost which closes the Easter season.
There follows Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi two Sundays which always follow Pentecost.
The Sundays of the Year (ordinary time) beginning with the 2nd Sunday of the Year, on the first Sunday we always celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, and end with the feast of Christ the King which brings the liturgical year to a close.
Ordinary Time, when we have the Sundays of the Year, occurs immediately after the Christmas season until the beginning of Lent and from the feast of Pentecost until the end of the liturgical year. However it must be remembered that Trinity Sunday and the feast of Corpus Christi always occupy the two Sundays following the feast of Pentecost.
There are ten feast days whose readings replace the Sunday readings when the feast occurs on a Sunday. The notes for these feasts will be found in each year after the feast of Christ the King under the heading ‘Major Feasts.’
From what we read in The Word of the Lord the ministry we fulfil every Sunday is very important. It is not just a question of going to the lectern and reading the lesson, we need to prepare well so that we have ‘the ability to understand the reading in context and to perceive in the light of faith the central point of the revealed message.’ To help us it is always useful to read through the other readings especially the gospel reading which carries the theme for the Sunday. Also it sometimes helps to read the verses preceding and/or following the actual reading to give us a greater understanding of the text to be proclaimed. This is sometimes suggested in the notes. Finally prayer should always be part of our preparation to help us ‘perceive in the light of faith the central point of the revealed message.’